Google announced that it is no longer using authorship markup or displaying author information in search results, saying that it just wasn't as useful as expected.
Actually, it was Google's John Mueller who announced the change on his personal Google+ page rather than on any official Google blog, which seems odd for something like this that Google pushed on users a great deal a couple years ago. Mueller writes:
I’ve been involved since we first started testing authorship markup and displaying it in search results. We've gotten lots of useful feedback from all kinds of webmasters and users, and we've tweaked, updated, and honed recognition and displaying of authorship information. Unfortunately, we've also observed that this information isn’t as useful to our users as we’d hoped, and can even distract from those results. With this in mind, we've made the difficult decision to stop showing authorship in search results.
(If you’re curious -- in our tests, removing authorship generally does not seem to reduce traffic to sites. Nor does it increase clicks on ads. We make these kinds of changes to improve our users’ experience.)
He goes on to note that Google will continue to expand support of structured markup like schema.org, and use it to show rich snippets in search results. He also says the changes won't affect users seeing Google+ posts from friends and pages in search results or publisher markup.
Asked in the comments if Google will still be using authorship data behind the scenes, and whether or not people should remove the code from their pages, Mueller said, "No, we're no longer using it for authorship, we treat it like any other markup on your pages. Leaving it is fine, it won't cause problems (and perhaps your users appreciate being able to find out more about you through your profile too)."
Asked if there is no longer any value to showing Google (via interlinking with the Google+ profile) what pieces of work have been published online, Mueller responded, "Well, links are links, but we're not using them for authorship anymore."
Some obviously feel like they've jumped through various hoops Google has thrown at them, only for it all to have been a waste of time. It's still not exactly clear why taking it away makes search results more useful.
Here's Mueller's full post:
Image via Google+